Bearscat 50 / Bearscat 25 - Wawayanda State Park
by Doug Southwick • October 07, 2018
The only time I have ever biked at Wawayanda was years ago racing the Bearscat 50 in wet conditions, and that turned out to be a really long and tough day. Luckily for me, there is a one lap option aka the Bearscat 25 (actual mileage was 27) which sounded way more fun and way less painful. My nerves were pretty relaxed probably being I really didn't have any expectations of a podium, or of being last but just hoping for time of 3:15 or so.
` The 50 milers start their race 30 minutes before the 25 milers, and as we were getting lined up we see them coming back our way after the prologue loop. The whole 25 miler group starts off together as a neutral start behind a truck until the first turn off the park road. This prologue loop is just jeep road and I figured I am in the tail end of the top 1/3.
At the end of the prologue I am with 2 other racers including my friend (aka Mr. SS) as we turn into the singletarck. Initially the singletrack is pretty low tech and fast but all that quickly changes into lots and lots of round stuck in the dirt rocks aka "babyheads". I think the combination of not knowing the trails or the lines and being in race mode I am off the bike more times than I want to admit. The three of us are still together and the other guy says this is one of the toughest sections of the whole course.
By the time I hit the next trail I'm by myself, this section is less technical and a nice break. The course keeps switching - from slow, rocky, "ugh, I am off the bike again" sections to faster, much easier trails. I occasionally pass someone, and occasionally get passed. The climbs, although not long or tough, keep coming. The miles roll by as I ride in a not too uncomfortable endurance pace. Around mile 18 I hear a "there you are" as Mr. SS makes a solid pass on me going up a climb. Hmm, I did plan to pick up the pace at 5 miles to go but why not try it at 9 miles to go. By the top of the climb he had opened up a big gap so I had to put in a big effort to get on his wheel.
My effort stays really high and we start to catch and pass people. First it was folks I remember seeing then it's people who are not familiar. We get by a bunch of people. I am pretty sure some of them are the tail end of the 50 milers just not sure who is who at this point. I stay on his wheel as tight as I can being if he passes someone I want to at the same time to avoid any gaps. He bobbles and I pass, soon after I hear him say "Another SS" who we soon pass as the other SS dismounts on a climb. Then onto the last section of singletrack which was super fun - a fast flowy high-speed downhill section which dumps us back on the park road for the last mile. The first part is flat then onto a slight uphill to the finish. My gps showed my time at 3:09 which I was happy with.
Time to soft pedal, relax, change, and then get some of the included BBQ lunch. Just as we finish lunch we see them post the results and... What? 3rd place in Masters? I am really surprised and happy that I made the podium!